Great things were expected when Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez stepped into the ring for the fourth time last night (Dec. 8, 2012) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Those expectations were not met, on the contrary, they were exceeded.
After two rounds that saw Pacquiao use his speed to outbox the bulkier Marquez, things took a turn for the dramatic in the third when "Dinamita" followed a jab with a monstrous overhand right that sent "Pacman" legitimately to the canvas for the first time in ages.
Though Pacquiao went down hard, Marquez was perhaps too patient, not pressing the advantage and letting Pacquiao escape the round. Marquez looked to be taking further control of the fight after a good fourth round, only to go down himself in the fifth on thanks to the Filipino fighter's trademark straight left.
The momentum swung Pacquiao’s way once again shortly thereafter with him finding his rhythm in the sixth frame. The Filipino star began to land his left hand with regularity, both by itself and in combinations. As the timekeeper signaled 10 seconds left, it looked like Pacquiao was fully in control in, indeed, going for the definitive finish.
Then it happened.
Pacquiao left his left hand just a tiny bit too low as he attempted one final rush at the bell. Marquez unleashed an absolute beast of a right hand, sending Pacquiao face-down, ass-up right as the bell sounded. The referee waited for Pacquiao to rise so he could give him a standing eight count before sending him to his corner, however, he was lifeless.
In fact, it probably would have taken industrial equipment to peel him off the canvas -- Pacquiao was sleeping for a good 90 seconds while the Marquez camp swarmed the ring in shock and unbridled excitement. It was fight of the year while it lasted. It was the knockout of the year when it ended.
And it couldn’t have come at a better time, either. All three of the under card bouts comprised an exponentially more talented fighter cruising past an inferior opponent. Dominican prospect Javier Fortuna defeated Patrick Hyland in a lackluster affair, while Miguel Vazquez danced circles around a mostly-inanimate Mercito Gesta.
The sole excitement of the three came when Cuban star Yuriorkis Gamboa, after dropping foe Michael Farenas twice over the course of nine rounds, got cocky during a flurry and went down hard on a left hand, though he won a wide decision anyway.
That was certainly not the case in the back-and-forth main event, which was one of the most action-packed 18 minute high-profile prize fights in recent memory. One that could possibly demand a fifth encounter in the near future.
It's a big money fight ... still.
For full results and play-by-play of the night’s "Marquez vs Pacquiao 4" proceedings, including blow-by-blow coverage of the entire fight and main card, click here. To watch full fight video highlights of the highlight-reel knockout click here and to see it in annotated .gif form click here.